A DANGEROUS METHOD is the film version of a play version of a book about the schism between Freud and Jung and the role played in it by a young woman who was Jung’s patient, student and lover. It is also, as such, a pleasant surprise.
On one level, the lines seem stage-bound and almost determinedly affectless, as though the text spoken were from some newly discovered Platonic dialogue. Yet something in David Cronenberg’s filmmaking matches the emotional austerity of the words with the preternatural delineation of his images, giving it a patina of brightness and unreality.
This has the interesting effect of helping me beyond the reservation I have always had about the ability of narrative filmmaking to present stories in languages other than those that would have been spoken by the actual historical persons (who in this case are Swiss, Viennese and Russian-Jewish despite the English dialogue). The “universal translator” has never worked for me in putatively realistic filmmaking as it does for me in the theater, or on “Star Trek,” but Cronenberg’s intricate stylization elides this aesthetic disjunction.
And the acting, affectless though the dialogue is, is excellent, particularly in the person of Keira Knightley, who performs with a maturity and incisiveness greater than I have seen from her before.
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